How To Be More Charismatic! with Hilari Weinstein

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Episode Summary

TSP 110 | How To Be More CharismaticToday’s guest on The Successful Pitch is Hilari Weinstein, who is a charismatic expert. She said you need to approach being charismatic from the inside out, not the other way, and the ability to draw others in, which is really what charisma is totally based on how authentic you are. She gives examples of people who are authentic and who are not. Most importantly, she said confident people are really better listeners because they don’t need to prove anything to other people. She goes into a deep dive in all the kinds of confidence that don’t support you and the way to get true confidence. Finally, she said if you don’t trust yourself, it’s probably because you’re not taking care of yourself. Enjoy her secrets on charisma and confidence, so when you get up to pitch, you’ll be at your best. Enjoy the episode.


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How To Be More Charismatic! with Hilari Weinstein

Hello and welcome to The Successful Pitch. I’m very excited today because my guest is also a friend and full of information. Her name is Hilari Weinstein and she’s the president of High Impact Communication. She helps bring out authentic charisma in others, and who doesn’t need that? She helps communicators and presenters, which we all are when we pitch, become more compelling, confident, and authentically charismatic while helping the message become more effective and engaging. She does a lot of work in the design and construction industry, and she works with a lot of high profile individuals about being your high packed inside you.

Hilari, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much, John, I appreciate it. I’ve been following your show for so long and I’m so excited that our schedules finally worked out and we’re finally able to visit.

Yes, yes. Tell us, how did you decide to specialize in helping people find their charisma? I’m sure there’s a story there. How did become the charisma expert?

Well, I’ve been studying charisma for about 20 years. I started teaching a class that I called The Charisma Clinic about 14 years ago. Did a lot of research, a lot of reading, and working in the design and construction industry with a lot of engineers and architects and construction folks who aren’t known to be the most charismatic individuals on the planet, it provided a very fertile classroom in which to explore not just how to take somebody who was a natural extroverct and help them become more charismatic, but also look at some of those folks that are natural introverts and really break it down to okay, what is it truly that makes someone charismatic?

Initially, and in doing a lot of the research, I find that a lot of folks approach charisma from the outside in, where it’s, “Okay, how do I stand, how do I gesture, what do I do with my voice to come across as more charismatic?” The challenge I find is that when folks have a checklist in their mind about what it takes to do anything, they have a tendency to come across as somewhat robotic and inauthentic, which is really the antithesis of charisma. So what I started exploring was, okay, what could I do in terms of shifting their mindset, shifting how they’re feeling in a given moment to help someone display charisma without having to think of the mechanics of it.

TSP 110 | How To Be More Charismatic

As a result of that, I discovered a number of things. Number one is there is no single formula that works for every human being on the planet. What triggers someone’s authentic charisma is unique for each person. For example, I was working with a fellow who he had a very gruff appearance and intensity about him. When he walked into a meeting or a presentation, he had a tendency to push people away. I asked him, I said, “When you walk into these meetings, what are you thinking about?” He said, “Well, I have this song that I play at the gym, and it really pumps me up.” I told him, I said, “So don’t ever think about that song again when you go into a meeting because you’re scaring people. Your intensity is so big that it’s actually having the opposite effect of what you want.”

When I think of what is charisma, it’s the ability to draw others in. Authenticity is the source of that charisma, which stems from the inside as opposed to something on the outside. That’s really where the two meet and what’s unique about how I approach it.

TSP 110 | How To Be More Charismatic

So authenticity is the source of charisma, is that correct?

Correct. But there’s a lot of charisma out there that people teach and talk about that I would not identify as authentic because it comes … the source is outside of the individual as opposed to within the individual.

Yes, I get it. So it’s to the inside work out to be authentic and then therefore charismatic as opposed to, coming up with, as you said, the checklist of things to do. Shine my shoes, smile, pretend I’m happy if I’m not, all that good stuff.

Just to give people a frame of reference, let’s start in the business world. Are there any of the people you see — Mark Zuckerbergs of the world, Bill Gates, anybody, women, of course, that you think, “Oh, that’s a charismatic person because they’re authentic and they draw me in.”

Well, I find Arianna Huffington to be incredibly authentically charismatic. It really does come from within. I think in terms of people that would be highly visible, somebody else who’s also a woman is Oprah Winfrey. Yes, she understands the technical part of it, but when you look at her, there’s truth in what she’s saying, and it comes out in a beautifully authentic way. I don’t find personally Zuckerberg especially charismatic. I find Mark Cuban to be someone who is charismatic but not authentically so. I feel like he forces his charisma and forces his energy on others.

Somebody else that I think as very unique in terms of having authentic charisma is Steve Jobs because what’s interesting about him is he’s very … or, you know, when he was alive, he was very contemplative. Very aware of his own internal world. That’s probably one of the greatest sources of his creativity and innovation is his ability to go within and find some of those answers that he’s seeking.

Let’s talk about Arianna Huffington, for example. One of the things I think that makes her so authentic is her willingness to be vulnerable, and I see that across a lot of people, right? She will admit that she burned out and didn’t get enough sleep, so now that’s one of her messages to people. It’s a personal pain and it’s a personal experience of that.

Well, one of the things that’s you’re also quite astute in is the concept of confidence and I’m always talking about that to clients when they go in a pitch to get funded. You need to be confident but not arrogant. You’ve identified five different types of confidence. If you don’t mind, let’s go through some of those so that people can get a real sense of what the kind of confidence they need to have when they’re going in to pitch.

Absolutely. I actually think there’s a really strong link between authentic charisma and true confidence, as I like to call it. People that are authentically charismatic have that true confidence.

Nice. Let’s talk about the things that are not true confidence, is the contrast. The first one is inflated confidence. Tell us what that is.

Well, inflated confidence is when someone’s self-perception really exceeds their actual capabilities, and as a result, there’s a distortion happening and they have a tendency to really soak in praise like a sponge and have difficulty accepting constructive feedback.

It’s interesting, I’ve heard the difference sometimes between men and women with a job description, for example. There’ll be 10 things on there and the guy will say, “Hey, I can do one of those 10 things, I’m applying.” Then the woman will say, “Oh I can only do 9 out of the 10, I’m not applying.” Would the guy be an example of only has one of the 10 things, of inflated confidence?

Well in that scenario, there could be a number of other factors which would influence their willingness to just go for it anyways. It could be, you know, economics. They could be thinking to themselves, okay, you know what, I got to take care of my family so you know what, I believe that if they met me, that they would see that I could learn some of these other things. I think there’s a lot more going on that could contribute to the reason why men and women would respond differently in that scenario. Part of it may be confidence, but I think there may be some other things. Something else is some people really feel confident in certain contexts, where it could be, okay, people that they know or they’re great one-on-one, but you throw them into a large room with a number of strangers and their confidence completely erodes.

Yes, so that happens a lot when people are pitching investors because they don’t really know the investors and there’s a lot at stake. How do you help people that have trouble or freeze in front of a room of strangers?

Well, one of the first things that I tell them is the only difference between a stranger and someone you know is what you’re telling yourself in your mind. Because that’s the difference. Let’s say somebody’s significant other says, “Hey, we’re going to this party and there’s somebody there that you’re going to have to meet. He has a lot of the same interests as you, you both came from the same state, you both love the New England Patriots, you guys are going to have a blast talking.”

Now you don’t even know that person, but when you go and you meet that person, what’s the experience? Well, it’s almost like a warm introduction because you have this … you’ve told yourself something in your mind that says okay, I’m going to enjoy having a conversation with this person. By making the shift internally for you, it completely alters that experience.

Nice, that’s great. Well you can certainly do that by doing some due diligence on the investors in the room before you get there and know oh, we have something in common.


How about the subject matter confidence, where they’re only confident when they talk about one thing? Let’s say … not to pick on doctors, but let’s just say a doctor can only, he’s a heart surgeon and that’s all he’s confident in. Ask him about anything else, and it goes away. What’s that a cause of, is it a lack of exposure to other things or is it …

It’s there’s a fundamental belief of not good enough when it comes to people that are subject … that lack subject matter … that are only subject matter confident. What I mean by that is … so let’s say you’ve got somebody that you’re working with on a pitch who’s incredibly technically savvy, is more of a scientist. But they’re also being asked for some questions related to maybe their business acumen, or how would they manage, or whether some of the things that they’re going to be doing outside of just the science of it to help make the business thrive and make it viable. There may be some people who because of their subject matter confidence feel less than when it comes to things that they may not feel as confident in. It doesn’t mean they’re incompetent. It means that their standard for excellence is so high in one area that if they don’t have that same excellence in another, it deflates their confidence.

It’s almost telling yourself you don’t have to be perfect in something to have an opinion about it, right? Some people say, “Well, if I’m not good at this, I’m never going to do it at all, because unless I’m the best, I don’t want to do it because my confidence, my self-esteem is so fragile that I can’t do something or try something new because unless I’m the best, I feel bad.”

Right. Then the other piece of it is accepting that certain things are a work in progress because things have to evolve. You didn’t become a subject matter expert overnight, and so learning these other things may take a little while. Sometimes it’s okay to say, “You know what, I need to do some more homework in this area.”

What about this concept of borrowed confidence, which I just love. I’ve never heard this before, where it’s someone has confidence but were borrowing it. Now, maybe when co-founders are pitching investors, one of the co-founders is sort of borrowing the other person’s confidence in the room, but it doesn’t last very long and of course, it fades. What can we do to avoid borrowing confidence that won’t last?

Well, and sometimes we actually need to borrow the confidence, and that’s okay. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I remember when I was a young girl and the first time I did a school play. My drama teacher would build and instill in me some confidence. I would go home and I would work on my lines and I would get frustrated, and then I would think about what she said to me, and I’d say, “You know what, maybe she sees something in me I can’t see in myself yet, but it’s there, I just can’t see it yet.”

Sometimes borrowing that is the first step in developing that real confidence because if we value someone’s opinion that much and we admire them, we trust them. When we lack self-esteem or lack confidence, somebody’s perception of our capabilities can actually assist us in eventually not relying on that confidence or the borrowed confidence to the same degree.

I like that a lot because let’s say you get funded and then you go, “Oh my gosh,” the imposter syndrome kicks in. “They made a mistake giving me that money.” Then you have to be, “Wait a minute, they’ve done their due diligence on me, they’ve made other smart investments. If they believe in me at the moment, they must have seen something in me that at this particular day I’m having a rough spot, I may not see. I have to trust their confidence in me to get my own back.” Is that a good example?

Right. Absolutely. Then the other piece of it too is sometimes we compare ourselves to other people, where you know what? It’s not about playing a mimic game. You bring something to the table but it’s completely unlike anybody else. Being able to look in the mirror and recognize the value that you have and the contribution that you can make to the world is one of the most important things in developing that real confidence. It’s saying, “You know what? Other people, they may have a different style than me and that’s great. They may have a different way of approaching things. That’s great, but you know what, the world also has room for me too.”

Nice. I think letting go of comparing yourself to others is a great tip because I know from myself when I just focus on my own progress, that’s when I win. There’s always going to be somebody younger, thinner, richer, more successful, and you drive yourself crazy feeling not good enough all the time if all you do is compare yourself.

There was a wonderful book that I read. I’m trying to remember … it’s called “May I Be Happy?” One of the things that the author writes is it’s not even just comparing ourselves to others. It’s comparing ourselves to ourselves when we were 15 years ago. How many people go and kill themselves in the gym and are continuously frustrated when they don’t look like they did 15 years ago? The body’s not supposed to do that. That recognition for me is to go, “Wow.”

Sometimes it’s not even the real me, it’s the perception that I have of what this ideal looks like. I said, “You know what, I’m not going to focus on the ideal. I want to really just like me now.”

Nice. Yes, it’s so true, and of course, then you could be the best me. Now the other one you talk about is this whole social media confidence. People talk about, “Oh, get so many followers and you have social proof,” and all that good stuff. Or you get so attached to whether somebody liked your picture or, “Nobody commented on it, I feel bad.” That’s a very controversial topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

You know, I know so many people that get upset if they don’t get a certain number of likes or comments for whatever they post. I had a conversation with a friend of mine, I say well, then tell me why are you posting? Are you posting to get the likes, or are you posting because you want to put something out there that’s meaningful to you? It seems like … it’s kind of like dating. When we go out there and we come across as desperate, people are less likely to respond in the way that we desire.

I think there has to be a balance. I think ultimately, it’s not about the likes. Ultimately, it has to be that you want to contribute to the world. Sure, maybe some posts or some pictures are going to get more likes than others, but it’s really, it’s about the big picture and it’s about contributing to the world in a positive way.

Well that leads right into what you say, is that truly confident people relate to themselves regardless of what’s happening outside of them, whether they get so many likes or not. In other words, you’re not needing that fix of, “Oh, you look cute today,” or “You look hot today,” or “I like that you …” to feel good about yourself. You already feel good about yourself, you’re not attached to what other people think. Right?


How would you say that truly confident people relate to others? What’s their secret there?

Well, truly confident people tend to be better listeners than those that are less confident.

TSP 110 | How To Be More Charismatic

I love that, we’re going to tweet that out. Confident people are better listeners.

Yup, because they don’t need to be the center of attention. Truly confident people actually do a lot of self-reflection and they tend to process a lot of things internally. They actually have a relationship with themselves that is as solid as that they might have with their best friend.

And, you can be your own best friend.

Exactly, yes. BYO … actually, I was … one of the books that I’m writing right now. I’m working with the title, and I was going to call it BYOBFF. Be Your Own BFF.

Nice. You also talk about high-impact you. Can you tell us about that?

Yes. High impact you is really a combination of three different elements, the first of which is focused on vitality and well-being. Because when we don’t feel good, and when we don’t take care of ourselves, it’s very difficult to be the person in the world that we want to be. Our culture is so focused on doing, doing, doing that many people compromise that relationship with themselves and compromise self-care. I can’t tell you how many people I talk to that tell me that they’re constantly exhausted, constantly overworked, that they just feel like they’re this working machine. It’s impossible to be an innovator, it’s impossible to be creative, it’s impossible to have others experience you, the real you in this world when you don’t feel good.

So true.

Like you don’t feel like you have vitality. Once that is taken care of, it’s almost like kind of Maslow’s hierarchy. It’s like the basic needs have to be taken care of. Now, when those basic needs are taken care of, we have a greater capacity to develop true confidence. True confidence really comes from learning to take care of ourselves. It’s about learning to trust ourselves. Many people don’t trust themselves because they don’t take care of themselves.

TSP 110 | How To Be More Charismatic

That’s good. You don’t trust yourself because you don’t take care of yourself. That’s almost like integrity. How can you have integrity with other people if you don’t have integrity with yourself, right?

Right, if I make bad choices for me, why would I trust my own advice?

Wow. That’s deep.

The next piece after developing that true confidence is being able to actualize authentic charisma which is the effect that we have on others. It has to happen in these layers. What’s interesting is this was revealed to me backwards. That initially, I started doing the work on charisma, I discovered, wait a second, the way that people are teaching it is not the most effective way. It really has to come from the inside out.

Then, it was revealed to me the confidence piece and then the well-being piece, I was like, why did that happen backwards? I don’t know why it did, it just did, but I see how they all have to work together. Somebody cannot have authentic charisma if they don’t have inner vitality and if they don’t have true confidence.

Nice. Nice. Now Hilari, how can people work with you? Who is your ideal client that needs your help getting this charisma so that they can make an impact in the world?

Well, it’s really anybody who wants to have the effect that they have on others be in greater alignment with how they want to come across. Because oftentimes, people believe they come across one way, and how others receive them is very, very different. Making sure those are in alignment is really one of the things that I’m most passionate about.

I don’t start with how I want somebody to come across, one of the first questions I ask is, “How do you want others to experience you?” You tell me, and then based upon that, then we start working together because if what I see is not in alignment or what I experience through what I see, hear, and feel is not in alignment with your desires, we need to find a way to get them into alignment.

But also, my goal is to make people not reliant on me. It’s to help them start tuning into themselves and understanding the effect that certain things will have on others with whom they interact. I do that through one on one consulting, I do it through training, and I’m in the process of developing some online learning resources that will help people as well in all three of those areas.

Nice, because once you have charisma and confidence, you get more customers, you get more people to join your startup, and ultimately you convince investors to fund your vision.

And the relationships that you have, you feel better about because you know that they come from an authentic place.

Nice, fantastic.

So you have to work less hard at trying to convince people.

Nice. Well, I know you have a blog and a website, so tell us the best way to follow you and reach out to you.

Yes. My website is You can also follow me on Twitter and you can also connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Fantastic. We’ll put all that in the show notes. Hilari, thank you so much for showing us all how to have a little more charisma in our life because we all want to be charming to people so that we can be charming to ourselves.

Yes. Thank you so much, John.


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